Did you know that this year we’re celebrating 20 years of the National Rural Ambassador Award? To celebrate, we’ve been catching up with the 19 individual who have held the prestigious title since 2001. We look forward to announcing number 20 next month at the Ekka.

Planning your wedding can be a big enough undertaking on its own. Throw in running a beef farm, working as a chemist, showjumping horses and helping bring the local show together and it’s safe to say Sophie Lay-Crooke had her hands full the year she won the national rural ambassador in 2018. 

Life certainly hasn’t slowed down for Sophie in the years since either. Today she runs beef cattle with husband Andrew on the 300 acre property they purchased in Seaview, Victoria. She works as a technician at the Agriculture Victoria research farm in Ellinbank. The couple’s one year old daughter is right beside Andrew and Sophie as they train and compete with her warmblood horses in showjumping. 

Agricultural shows have always been a part of Sophie’s life. She’s following in her dad’s footsteps through her involvement in the local show and has been the vice president for two years. Sophie also took the presidency reins to the young members group and is involved in the judging at the Gippsland level and Victorian level for junior ambassador. 

She credits the rural ambassador award with connecting her with other like-minded, young, passionate and talented people in the agricultural sector. 

“I gained a great deal of confidence in communicating with various people from different walks of life, and inspired me to further pursue a career in agriculture,” she said. 

“This program is fantastic and I strongly encourage anyone to apply. It took me to agricultural shows around the country, and I met so many like minded people and it further inspired me to pursue a career in agriculture.”